Wireless is all very fine if that is your way of doing things, but what happens if, while having made an effort to maintain a connection with up-to-date technology, the nagging conflict with built-in obsolescence and discarding simply because it’s outdated, results in a tangle of confusion?
Spurred by the easing of restrictions to allow visitors to use the loo, and the likely next step of hearing someone press the wireless bell and be invited further into the house, the drive to complete the well intentioned clear-up has taken on a greater urgency.
The box is clearly labeled Important Computer Stuff and is deep enough to have made adding to its contents too simple an exercise in my ‘just in case’ way of dealing with decisions to keep or not to keep. What a tangle of wires, with some oddly shaped plugs at one end and no idea for what connections at the other. Yellow, red, but mostly black, some with tiny, long faded hand written labels wrapped round, C.D.’s purporting to be drivers, USB storage sticks, and something round and white with holes in the top have been uncovered. I don’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed to admit that down in the depths were two floppy discs and a packet of fittingly fashioned labels. Might they become interesting museum pieces or valuable last century curios if I put them back in the box for another few years, or should they be given the heave? Do I, in another cupboard somewhere, have the instruments of wonder into which the unidentifiable other end will fit? Each was considered important enough to be designated as such in the first place, and there may well be some essential wire waiting to be unraveled and its original purpose within a plug-in of being rediscovered.
Is there someone somewhere who could put these to good use? Could an up-cycling enthusiast fashion fruit bowls or table lamps from these bits and pieces because I baulk at the prospect of landfill? Wireless is a great way forward if it reduces such waste. It also holds the promise of a printer that obviates the need for me to send myself emailed documents in order to print on my fully functional but a bit basic twelve year old one, chosen for its brand reliability. Obviously, I made a good choice because it is still going and doesn’t even grumble, so I feel morally bound to keep it until it gives up. Earphones and tangled wires in a handbag may become a thing of the past if Santa ever brings the wireless variety to allow listening without being seen with wires comin’ oot o’ ma heid.
Broadcasts and listening play a major part of life for many, especially during lockdown. Although I sometimes hear myself tell myself to turn down the wireless, I have appreciated the move forward from big mahogany box, to the portable battery tranny, and now a small, neat, tune itself, press a button to change the station radio, solar powered no less, but being nowhere near the sun in my kitchen, still requires a plug and a wire. What a source of information and entertainment on which I have always depended as my first choice when seeking a variety of news, discussions, general or specific interest topics, comedy, drama and of course, The Archers. Not meaning to detract from the adversity due to major life changes some people have had to endure, one change I am struggling with is the adjustment to the new style reports from Ambridge. My Granny listened to the everyday story of country folk. She was in it from the start, and like some of her other valuable indoctrinations, the habit remains with me still.
For my Granny, apart from the very local weekly newspapers and the Sunday Post, the wireless was the only source of information, so tuning to the Home Service was vital for keeping abreast of current events. Paying attention to particular broadcasts was sacrosanct; The Shipping Forecast, the urgent messages for people believed to be travelling in a particular area, and on Saturday, the Scottish Country Dance Music, when whoever was in the house was expected to join in with a hooch to Kate Dalrymple and keep in time to the Bluebell Polka. From a child’s perspective, there was never a doubt that what the man said on the News was important and true, and what the lady said on Listen With Mother, she said to us and nobody else. Recollection of songs on Children’s Favourites would take too long! Unlike several other families in the town, we listened to the wireless on a Sunday, although there were rules about what was and wasn’t appropriate pastime on The Sabbath.
Setting aside the dangers of extremism for another deeper discussion, we might recognize as positive where we are now, with each having a free choice, dictated by personal principles and belief, regarding observance of custom. We can practice a closer examination of ‘what the man says’ on the News, and take heed of the need to listen more closely before deciding what we make of what we are told. There are so many sources of news and so much necessary skepticism regarding its authenticity, that an occasional longing for ‘just tell me true’ comes to the fore. Each to their own decision on what they believe to be fact, but what is clear is the urgency for us all to listen to one another, as individuals, groups, communities, and nations. Active listening and not simply hearing as background noise, is essential if a positive way forward is to be found on this wave of uncertainty and cry for change. Well, it can only help to uncross the wires of misunderstanding!
Moving on. I had occasion for self-imposed annoyance at being wireless on a masked visit to the supermarket. Following its mandatory thorough wash after use, my bespoke face covering was inadvertently left without its nose pinching piece of kit. Consequently, I was rendered seriously visually challenged through steamed up glasses. Was I to run a finger under each lens and risk virus transfer via eyes or risk bumping in to someone from whom I should be two meters distant? Supermarket decisions used to be hard enough when focused on a choice between Twix Bars or Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. Who would have imagined that being a short length of wireless would take on such significance?
It can be good fun spending time reminiscing, and just occasionally there is an opportunity to own up to having been a bit of a numpty. There was a man down the road from my Granny who was spoken about as a Wireless Ham. I didn’t ever ask, but puzzled how this perfectly normal looking person could be in anyway related to the meat on our plates for Sunday tea. I don’t know how many years later, but the penny dropped when Tony Hancock entertained us with his Mayday episode. It’s worth a watch if it can be found on any up-to-date wireless downloadable facility.
I found my old Sony Walkman! I hereby declare that I have no intention of clearing out the boxes of CDs, but will look forward to choosing something to listen to on this rediscovered plaything. What with being a DAB hand at finding things on the radio and having a choice of music which catalogues a lifetime of changing cultural references –
I’m Wired for Sound